To the OP's original question:
Some people I know HAVE become "big weather scaredy cats"...and, guess what--it's the media's fault. And I work in the media so I've got a bit of an insider's perspective..
TV stations feel the need to overblow upcoming weather events solely as a ratings-grabber. Even everyday weathercasts on local stations are labeled "First Warning" or "News __ Storm Tracker."
So, as the local weather guys emphasize how big a local snowfall MIGHT be (almost always over-estimating amounts...they have turned the public into "big weather scaredy cats." And when a big storm's a-comin' what does any news room do? Tell people what they need to do to protect themselves: get water, stock up on food, etc. Ever see one of your local reporters at a grocery store or Home Depot before a storm? I bet you have. It's an easy way to fill time--especially at a time when there might not be much going on since everyone is hiding under their tables waiting for Armageddon.
It has completely gotten over done.
We see this all the time here, too. I even joke about it to my wife, saying "Deathstorm 2014" or "Snowmageddon" is coming according to the local news.